Episode 99: Another Family Annihilator & the Smiling Widow

Dec 11, 2019, 11:30 AM

Lowell Lee Andrews seemed like a brainy, well-behaved teenager. In fact, the local newspaper called him, “the nicest boy in Wolcott.” After he graduated from high school, he took off for the University of Kansas, where he majored in zoology. Lowell’s life seemed unremarkable in its normalcy. But then, during his Thanksgiving break in 1958, Lowell went home and murdered his entire family. Then Kristin tells us about Jessie Costello, a.k.a., the smiling widow. In the 1930s, Jessie Costello was really something. She was a flapper. She was a snappy dresser. But her life was a little dull. She was married to a stern firefighter named Bill Costello. She was the mother of four children. She didn’t work outside the home. But her life got a whole lot more interesting when she met a married policeman named Edward McMahon. The two started up an affair, and they weren’t exactly discreet about it. So, a few months later, when Bill Costello died of an apparent heart attack, the people of Peabo...

Lowell Lee Andrews seemed like a brainy, well-behaved teenager. In fact, the local newspaper called him, “the nicest boy in Wolcott.” After he graduated from high school, he took off for the University of Kansas, where he majored in zoology. Lowell’s life seemed unremarkable in its normalcy. But then, during his Thanksgiving break in 1958, Lowell went home and murdered his entire family.

Then Kristin tells us about Jessie Costello, a.k.a., the smiling widow. In the 1930s, Jessie Costello was really something. She was a flapper. She was a snappy dresser. But her life was a little dull. She was married to a stern firefighter named Bill Costello. She was the mother of four children. She didn’t work outside the home. But her life got a whole lot more interesting when she met a married policeman named Edward McMahon. The two started up an affair, and they weren’t exactly discreet about it. So, a few months later, when Bill Costello died of an apparent heart attack, the people of Peabody, Massacusetts were skeptical.

And now for a note about our process. For each episode, Kristin reads a bunch of articles, then spits them back out in her very limited vocabulary. Brandi copies and pastes from the best sources on the web. And sometimes Wikipedia. (No shade, Wikipedia. We love you.) We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the real experts who covered these cases.

In this episode, Kristin pulled from:
“Costello slain, doctor says at widow’s trial,” by Grace Robinson the Daily News
“Jessie on trial during 23 days,” by Joseph F. Dinneen for The Boston Globe
“McMahon near break under cross-examination on story,” by Melville E. Webb Jr for The Boston Globe
“Dr. Rooney says cyanide caused Costello’s death,” by Alfred J. Monahan for The Boston Globe
“Brands poison widow as sorceress-killer,” for the Daily News
“‘I’m vindicated, M’Mahon isn’t,’ Jessie declares,” for the Daily News
“Drop Dead Gorgeous: The Scandalous Trial of Jessie Costello” by Stephanie Almazan for The Lineup
“The Festive Murder Trial of Jessie Costello” New England Historical Society 
“Justice and Jessie Costello” Strange Company Blog

In this episode, Brandi pulled from:
“The nicest boy in Wolcott: ‘Polite’ Lowell Lee Andrews proved to be another ‘cold’ Kansas killer” by David Krajicek, The New York Daily News
“A Crime For All Time” by Mike Belt, Lawrence Journal World
“State v. Andrews” law.justia.com
“Lowell Lee Andrew” wikipedia.org